New York: Terming the inclusion of the African Union in the G20 “a master stroke,” United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Dennis Francis hailed India as a "voice of the Global South".

In September earlier this year, the African Union was made a full member of the G20 under India’s presidency.

"A master stroke. India has been a voice of the Global South, for some time," Francis said. The inclusion of the African Union in the G20 "really constitutes a defining moment".

In an exclusive ANI interview, the UNGA President on Monday called the African Union inclusion in G20 "a stellar achievement made by PM Modi and his government".

"I congratulate them warmly and deservingly for understanding and not just understanding, but acting on the strategic importance of that inclusion...,” Francis said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his inaugural address of the first session of the Global Leaders’ Summit on September 9, announced that the African Union has been made a full member of the G20.

“India is already a role model to the world. With so many different cultures, and so many different languages, India is a very diverse and rich country. And, that in itself is a powerful message for political success. I think India also has many lessons that it can share. Not just with the global South, but with the entire international community...," the UNGA President added.

Replying to a question about how he sees India as the largest troop contributor to the UN peacekeeping missions, Francis said that India is one of the first countries to assign female peacekeepers on the ground.

“So, India's role as a top contributor to UN peacekeeping is seen in that light as in a sense an underwriter of the principles enshrined in the charter. And a rule that is very much valued by the United Nations system. There's no doubt whatsoever that India is committed beyond rhetoric inaction, in boots on the ground and may I also say that India is one of the first countries to assign female peacekeepers on the ground....," Francis said.

On India’s bid for a permanent seat at the UNSC (United Nations Security Council), he said that the responsibilities were not beyond the capacity of the Government of India.

"Well, what I can say is, first of all, to congratulate India, on its ambitions to become a member of the UN Security Council. It is quite a weighty responsibility to become a member of the council. But also to become a permanent member is an extremely weighty responsibility, which I am sure is not beyond the capacity of the government of India. The question of when that will happen will be a question for, the members of the United Nations to decide, in the context of the reform agenda that's taking place within the Security Council. And let me emphasize consistent with what I have said before that security council reform is not an event. It's a process. In fact, it's an ongoing process…," added Francis.